Roughly every 11 years¹, something mildly interesting happens: There are one or more dates that contain a single repeating digit. August 8, 1988, for example, can be written 8/8/88. Cosmically, these patterns are meaningless, but for the past 22 years, dates containing repeating digits have been hugely significant to gaming, and another good one is coming soon: February 22, 2022.
On that fated Tuesday early next year, the light of a waning gibbous moon in Scorpio will illuminate one simple truth: that memorable dates attract big product launches.
A brief history of novelty release dates
I love novelty release dates like 2/22/22. No one owns the date it happens to be (not even Monsanto), and so everyone can give them whatever significance they want. Sometimes they're anniversaries or birthdays or holidays. Sometimes they're lucky, evil, or the end of the world. Picking a particularly cool date for a big product release feels like a challenge to the rest of the world: Can you make this meaningless sequence of numbers more significant than I can?
I don't think anyone beat Sega on September 9, 1999 (9/9/99), the date it released the Dreamcast in North America. I know that my life was changed by Power Stone, and that talking fish-man probably changed the course of a few lives, too. Final Fantasy 8 also released in North America on 9/9/99.² It was quite a day, at least in the console world.
And then, a little over a decade later on November 11, 2011 (11/11/11), one of the most influential games of all time released: The Elder Scrolls 5: Skyrim. Without Skyrim, what would “Skyrim Grandma” Shirley Curry be doing today? Streaming Fable 3? I don't even want to think about it.
2011 was a bit of a special year, because years that end in 11 generate four repetitious dates. The weakest of them, January 1, 2011 (1/1/11), is an exception to the rule that cool dates have been magnets for game releases.³ A holiday known primarily for hangovers just isn't a great day to release new games, and it didn't help that it fell on a Saturday.
The next string of ones in 2011 was January 11, 2011 (1/11/11), which fell on a Tuesday, the conventional day of the week for big game releases (at least back when most games were put on discs). For 1/11/11, the big release was DC Universe Online. On the Nintendo DS, Kingdom Hearts Re:coded and Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective also released in North America. Not quite Skyrim, but it was something.
Things heated up on the other side of the year. On November 1, 2011 (11/1/11), indie classic To The Moon came out, as well as not-so-classic The Lord of the Rings: War in the North. Off the PC, Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception and Sonic Generations also took advantage of the memorable series of 1s.
10 days later, we reached the big one: Skyrim released on 11/11/11, which is the only date each century in which the same digit is repeated six times.⁴
11/11/11 is also the most recent repeating-digit date, although there have been other interesting dates since then. 12/12/12 was cool, and 12/13/14 was the last time we'll see a perfect sequence this century (for readers who write the day first, that was December 11, 2013). But it was really 9/9/99 and 11/11/11 that were significant videogame days.
Here comes Twosday
And now we're on the verge of another day of repeated digits: February 22, 2022 (2/22/22). Even better, it happens to fall on a Tuesday, which is both the traditional day for big game releases and, in this case, an easy pun: Twosday's coming.⁵
Right now, Twosday contains just a couple of big confirmed game releases: Sifu and Destiny 2: The Witch Queen. Kung fu brawler Sifu (Sif2?) is the 2022 game I'm looking forward to most, and Destiny 2: The Witch Queen will keep our staff Destiny heads up past their bedtimes, but neither feel quite as monumental as the Dreamcast or Skyrim.
I don't think 2/22/22 has shown its entire hand yet, though. Here are a few games that are expected to release in early 2022, but that don't have firm dates yet:
- Total War: Warhammer 3
- Uncharted: Legacy of Thieves Collection
- Ghostwire: Tokyo
- The Lord of the Rings: Gollum
- Warhammer 40,000: Darktide
A total surprise could slide in, as well. Deuces are wild! As we observed earlier this year, 2022 is packed with games, so I'll be keeping an eye on this mildly interesting date to see if anyone tries to top '99 or '11.
I also haven't forgotten about February 2, 2022 (2/2/22), the less interesting sibling of 2/22/22, which happens to be Groundhog Day in the US. There's nothing big scheduled for that Wednesday yet, but I have to imagine it was once in consideration for Deathloop's release date, given the Groundhog Day time loop connection and the significance of it having two lead characters. I don't love novelty release dates so much that I wish Deathloop had been delayed, although delaying a game just for the sake of a cool release date isn't something I'd have put past Bethesda. Its next big RPG, Starfield, will release exactly 11 years after Skyrim, on 11/11/22.
Whether or not Twosday turns out to be a landmark day for gaming like 9/9/99 and 11/11/11, 2022 sure is going to be a lively year for computer games.
¹The gap between years that end in repeating digits—1955 to 1966, eg—is obviously 11. However, that rule doesn't work when we reach the end of a century. 1999 plus 11 brings us to 2010. 10/10/10 is cool, but we're looking for one repeating digit, so we need to add another year to get to 2011. The gap also varies according to the month and day these dates fall on, or months and days, in the case of years that end in 11, which can take advantage of both January and November 1 and 11. Years that end in 22 get February 2 and 22, and after that, it's all single-digit months and days: 3/3/33, 4/4/44, 5/5/55, 6/6/66, 7/7/77. 8/8/88, 9/9/99.
²Final Fantasy 7 also had a mildly interesting North American release date: 9/7/97.
³Alright, I admit it: I couldn't find any big game releases on 8/8/88, either. Super Mario Bros 2 released in North America on 10/9/88, though, a different sort of novelty date.
⁴Including the full year, the most repeated digits in a date since year 1 is eight, which occurred on 11/11/1111. That'll remain true for another 9,090 years, until 11/11/11111, the likely release date of The Elder Scrolls 7. (2/22/2222 will come the closest, with seven 2s.)
⁵Did you bring your coat?